The North Carolina Coup d’Etat and Prohibition

By Joshua D. Glawson, Strategic Communications Adviser

"Fascism is the stage reached after communism has proved an illusion." -F.A. Hayek

November 10, 1898, is an infamous day that forever symbolizes the brute force of a tyrannical government leaving many murdered and others terrified for life and limb. With the unfolding of this day came the genesis of many of the draconian laws that carry the echoes of terror even today. These terrorists and their sympathizers eventually implemented liquor prohibition, alcohol control state laws - including the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, state income taxes, state sales taxes, restricted voting rights, various race-based laws, upholding of Jim Crow laws, and limited political representation. Their vicious control was tied to their racist, communist ideology. 

More than a race war or riot, the evil that took place on this day is widely considered the only successful coup d’etat in U.S. history where innocent lives were brutally taken, peaceful people were threatened and banished, property robbed and destroyed, and official government seats uncivilly stolen; and, all of this was accomplished without one single evildoer ever being held accountable for unjust atrocities.

This coup d’etat occurred right here in Wilmington, North Carolina. 

It had been around 30 years since the end of the Civil War and the signing of the Reconstruction Amendments, and many Southerners were still angered. By the 1890s, North Carolina had seen a significant increase in the number of Fusionists, who consisted of whites and blacks cooperating to create a post-Civil War state, with their own new set of pros and cons. The race-based cooperation angered the masses the most, leading to the production of numerous race-bait cartoons and articles leading up to November 10. It was the 1896 election of Republican Governor Daniel Lindsay Russell that sparked outrage for Democratic white supremacist leaders in North Carolina. 

A dark coalition of bigoted Democrats was aided by paramilitary support from the Ku Klux Klan and communistic Red Shirts, who terrorized, whipped, and murdered those who actively voted against them or voiced opinions that opposed their posturing, asserting domination, power, and control. Much like their more outright communist and socialist kindred spirits plaguing the world at that time - and for some time thereafter, they incited violence and silenced civil discourse by threatening all for what they perceived as "the common good."

Such devious efforts in North Carolina were led by people such as Furnifold Simmons, Alfred M. Waddell, Josephus Daniels, and Charles B. Aycock. These tyrants would lead a committee that started a slithering movement called the White Declaration of Independence in which they wanted to forcefully remove any and all power from blacks and prevent Republicans from serving in government within North Carolina. Many of their caricatures portrayed blacks as being lazy, drunkards, ignorant, rapists, and uncivil. They wanted to scourge the entire population of North Carolina to "purify" it in the way they thought best.

Furnifold Simmons rallied hateful troops by calling on men who could "write, speak, and ride" for the white cause in November 1898. Simmons particularly despised pubs and distilleries, more for political and racial reasons than for health or civic purposes, and worked tirelessly throughout his career to end them and make North Carolina the first Southern state to pass statewide Prohibition laws. He associated distilleries with black "Republican recruiting stations."

Alfred M. Waddell wrote and spoke loudly in front of crowds calling for mass murder and violence against blacks in North Carolina, encouraging white supremacists to kill any black man seen voting in November 1898. Waddell acted as significant support for Simmons and Aycock.

Josephus Daniels led the newspapers in printing of false narratives and racist propaganda, stoking the flames of racial tensions, fearmongering, and provoking outright violence. With his caricatured portrayal of black men, he associated any and all consumption of alcohol with belligerence, rape, and general fears of chaos. 

Charles B. Aycock ran his entire North Carolina political campaign around the ideas of what author Gregory P. Downs called, "[White supremacy and the] management of the state through education, public health, segregation, disenfranchisement, and alcohol prohibition." 

By the end of the bloody day of November 10, 1898, at least 60 people had been murdered, with some counts suggesting upwards of 200. The coup mocked existing laws, tore officials from their political seats, and set precedent for an era that would send a cruel message across the entire state while allowing the perpetrators to maintain significant control. 

For nearly 40 years, overall, Simmons held control and authority over North Carolinians in what is known as the "Simmons Machine" through acts of despotism, nepotism, and favoritism. This is still echoed throughout the alcohol control state laws, particularly with the appointing of officials in the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission network in North Carolina today. The legacy perseveres, perpetuating nepotism and favoritism at the sacrifice of civility, liberty, and markets, and all at the expense of taxpayers, entrepreneurs, tourism, market representation, business development, and job creation. 

When the first ABC store was opened in North Carolina by the General Assembly in 1935, after the repeal of the 18th Amendment, it was approved in order to raise more money and taxes for implementing the New Deal in the state while running a state monopoly on liquor and alcohol sales. It was a system that touted modern progressivism and extreme government control, while maintaining deeply embedded beliefs in eugenics and racist ideology associating blacks with alcoholism

Once the reign of terror by white supremacists, Red Shirts, KKK, and others had subsided, and the centralized control of communists and socialists began to deteriorate in North Carolina, the remnants dug in and have remained intact through control via fascist means. These have consisted of continuous powers over social, commercial, and political entities. Just as the economist F.A. Hayek noted in his book The Road to Serfdom, "Fascism is the stage reached after communism has proved an illusion."


Joshua D. Glawson is a writer and speaker in the Liberty Movement. He has been active with the Libertarian Party of California since 2015. He now resides in his home state of North Carolina. Check him out at Home - Joshua D. Glawson (

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